THE CHILD-LOVERS BY WILSON & COX, ENGLAND CA. 1953-79
The Child-Lovers: A Study of Paedophiles in Society by New Zealander Glenn Daniel Wilson, then Lecturer in Psychology at the University of London, and his fellow clinical psychologist David N. Cox was published by Peter Owen, London in 1983.
Like the Danish book on the same subject, Crime Without Victims (1986), it is a rare study of child-lovers in the short modern period when sexual attraction to children had started to attract serious academic interest, but had not yet evoked the hysterical reaction that was to shut down objective study towards the end of the twentieth century. “It differs from other sample research in these areas because he [Wilson] finds his population within self-help groups rather than prison or clinical sources. […] The second part of this study is more absorbing, for it contains a sub-sample of 10 case studies.”
The ten case studies were all of men who lived in or near London. The interviews were conducted in 1978-79. One of them was of a man (“Derek”) who was then 47 and had been imprisoned aged 21 over sex with a boy, so that the book’s Greek love content describes the practice of pederasty in England between 1952/3 and 1979.
The authors never define the word “paedophile” they use in the title more precisely than to mean a person sexual attracted to “children”. However, they do say that attraction to those over 16 “would not qualify as paedophilia in the definitions of many researchers and clinicians.” (p. 8) and otherwise imply that children under 16 is what they have in mind. Clearly this was chosen as a definition for the legal reason that 16 was the age of heterosexual consent, but scientifically it is quite wrong, as paedophilia means attraction to children who have not reached pubescence, the onset of which for boys in England in 1978-9 can most reasonably be placed at around the 12th birthday.
As will be seen, 54 of the 77 men studied, a huge majority of 77%, were attracted to children over 12 and so were really hebephiles or ephebophiles, not paedophiles. Of the 68 men (88%) attracted equally or more to boys, an even higher 88% (53) preferred boys over 12. Hence it can be seen that overwhelmingly majorities of the men studied were hebephiles rather than paedophiles, and were drawn to Greek love.
What follows is a list of the book’s content with synopses of each chapter indicating everything of Greek love interest, together with links to the six interviews of men involved in Greek love affairs.
The authors explain that “social antipathy” to child-lovers is intense (for which they briefly suggest some reasons they find inadequate as a good explanation), so much so that study of them has had to be limited to those imprisoned or come for psychiatric help, which has inevitably given a distorted view. An opportunity for study of those at large in society finally arrived with the formation of the self-help organisation P.I.E., The authors availed themselves of this to approach P.I.E. in 1978 and get its co-operation in inviting its members to fill in two (fully-quoted) questionnaires and also to be interviewed. It was lucky that this was carried out when it was, in 1978-9, as P.I.E.’s activities have since 1981 been curtailed and muted by action against its leading members, including imprisonment of one. Seventy-seven members filled in the questionnaires out of an estimated membership of 180 (which, however, included some overseas) and ten living near London were interviewed by Dr. Cox. Possible causes for bias are considered.
II. Social Background and Sexual Behaviour
The results obtained from the questionnaires are summarised. Disproportionately large numbers ”were in professional-level occupations” and “in professions that would bring them into regular contact with children.” The age range was 20 to 75, with the late 30s average. 71% preferred boys, 12% girls and 17% liked both. The full age range of child sexually preferred was 7 to 18, but of those who preferred boys or liked both sexes, 70% preferred 12 to 14. The physical and personality traits of children that appealed were gone into, but (excepting one remark), without any differentiation between boys and girls. The authors note that the feminine characteristics of boys clearly appealed, and that attraction to children may just be an exaggeration of the ‘natural’ tendency of males to find youthfulness erotic. A section on feelings about sex with adults had very mixed results, though it was noted with interest that 10% of those attracted to boys preferred women to girls. A disproportionately very high number of those surveyed had fathers who had been dead or absent since they were very young or were not close to them. Also very disproportionately, most disliked their mothers, usually for being domineering or over-protective. A high proportion of parents had unusually restrictive or puritanical attitudes about sex. None of the findings about parents were specific to pederasts as opposed to girl-lovers. Sections on earliest sexual experiences, on the types of relationships engaged in with children and on sexual fantasies were equally unspecific and either drew no comparisons with the general population or found no significant differences. The remaining surveys of the child-lovers’ desired activities if there were no legal impediments, feelings about their own preferences and their experiences of treatment also offered no insights into the character of Greek love.
III. Personality and Mental Health
For this chapter, the authors used only their second questionnaire, the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire, to investigate the temperamental characteristics of child-lovers, who were found to be strikingly normal except for a tendency to introvertism. Notably, however, this only applied to those attracted to little children and was therefore irrelevant to Greek love.
IV. Selected Case Studies
“As the interviews progressed, it became clear that although these men share the same sexual preference they are different in many other ways, including their approach to paedophilia. We decided that it would be useful to present a summary of each person in terms of the unique features of that individual’s lifestyle as perceived by the interviewer, recognising that this represents a subjective impression rather than objective data.”
Accordingly, summaries of the ten interviewees were given first, followed by the interviews. As regards the presentation of the cases relevant to Greek love on this website, the summary and interview of each individual are combined.
S 7: ‘Rex’
A genuine paedophile discusses his attraction to children of both genders aged 3 to 12, if girls, or 14, if boys, but boys without body hair, which had always disgusted him.
S 12: ‘Adam’
A man of 39 enthusiastically discusses his sexual liaisons, including always love or friendship, and sometimes pedication and fellatio, with about 180 boys aged 10 to 14 over the last twenty-five years.
S 19: 'William'
A teacher in his mid-50s attracted to both boys of about 12 and women, but only ever sexually involved with one boy as a man, discusses his sexual history and its sad consequences for him.
S 35: ‘Eric’
A man in his early 30s attracted only to children of 2 to 14 (primarily boys), but only having “casual masturbatory sex” with them, discusses his sexual life and beliefs.
S 43: 'John'
A man of 28 attracted exclusively to boys of 10 to 15 (but, above all, 13) describes his “perfect relationship” with a boy, conducted with tacit parental approval and a deep sense of commitment. His only previous love affair had been a six-year one with the same boy’s older brother.
S 48: ‘Neil’
A young civil servant attracted to those aged 10-18, mostly boys and ideally around 12, discusses his anxieties over his current and first sexually realised liaison with a boy.
S 55: ‘Peter’
A 22-year-old working in the airline industry and attracted exclusively to boys of 10 to 16, ideally 13, discusses his liaisons with boys both in England and in countries, especially the Philippines where they could be conducted openly and with full parental approval.
S 62: ‘Garry’
An unemployed promiscuous man of 39 who was rather a sexual polymath: though his greatest preference was for light sexual play with black boys of 10, he could stretch himself to boys of 2 to 18, and less satisfactorily, to women.
S 64: ‘Harry’
An unforthcoming man in his mid-30s admits to preference for girls of 9 to 22, whilst also having had lesser interest in a boy of six and an old woman.
S 81: ‘Derek’
A social worker of 47, attracted only to boys, and most to ones of around 14, and then living with a former loved-boy and his wife, discusses his sexual life going back beyond imprisonment at 21 for sex with a boy.
The authors judge that the “responses to both the questionnaires and the interviews were fairly honest and uninhibited”. The disproportionate number of professionals may represent greater literacy amongst those attracted to P.I.E., but still negates “any idea that paedophiles can be associated with the ‘village idiot’ syndrome.” They found the child-lovers markedly introverted, but not significantly psychotic or neurotic. The social difficulties they were found to faced in previous studies, although these were of the incarcerated or institutionalised, were confirmed. However, the direction of cause and effect is uncertain. In contrast to these other studies, most of their subjects preferred boys. On the one hand, this may be because the other studies were of the incarcerated, and sex with girls was more likely to be reported, a less commonly consensual. On the other hand, P.I.E. may have had a homosexual bias due to its means of recruitment. Conclusions as to proportions of boy- and girl-lovers are difficult, with further complications being the many men attracted to women and boys, and the much greater willingness of boys for sexual adventure. The much higher age preference of those attracted to boys was explained by a fixation on the ages 12-14 in which boys are as mature as possible without having undergone the relatively enormous physical transformation caused by puberty. Child-lovers may be drawn to children through having less ability to dominate other adults. The paradoxical tendency of their subjects to be attracted to the feminine qualities of boys is explained as the arousal mechanism seizing on the nearest approximation to women after rejecting women themselves. Confusion of parental and sexual instincts may be a cause of sexual attraction to children. Their subjects gave notably unfavourable impressions of their parents, but three reasons are given for caution in drawing conclusions from this or the alleged tendency of their parents to be puritanical. They had mixed feelings about their sexual preferences, but all agreed that therapy was useless, for which reasons the findings in other studies that some of the incarcerated claimed to be cured should be dismissed as motivated by hope of release.
Though other studies have failed to show any harm done to children willingly involved in sex with adults, the authors feel it would be premature to legalise such sex, because “we still regard sex as immoral if there is any suggestion that social power has been abused in obtaining it,” and there is an imbalance of social power between adults and children, as well as in some other relationships where sex should accordingly also be illegalised. On the other hand, great harm can be caused to the child by “heavy-handed intervention”, so they hope that, without abandoning legal safeguards, “some discretion and compassion is exercised” by the authorities for the sake of the child as much as the adult.
A list of 26 books, of which only three specifically about pederasty:
Ingram, M., ‘The participating victim: A study of sexual offences against prepubertal boys’, in M. Cook and G.D. Wilson (eds), Love and Attraction: An International Conference, Oxford: Pergamon, 1979.
Newton, D.E., ‘Homosexual behaviour and child molestation: A review of the evidence’, Adolescence, 1978, 13, pp. 29—43.
Tindall, R.H., ‘The male adolescent involved with a pederast becomes an adult’, Journal of Homosexuality, 1978, 3, pp. 373—82.
 Review by Ken Plummer in The British Journal of Criminology, 24 No. 3 (July 1984), 315–316.
 Crime Without Victims (Denmark, 1986) took the same approach, but using 15 as the limit, since that was the age of consent in Denmark.
 A widely-used British study conducted in the 1950s and 1960s placed the onset of Tanner stage 2 genital growth in boys at 11.6 (W.A. Marshall & J.M. Tanner, “Variations in the pattern of pubertal changes in boys” in Arch Dis Child 1970;45 (239): 13–23). A study of “white” American boys in 1973-4 placed this age at 11.8 and that for Tanner stage 2 pubic hair growth at 12.5 (Foster TA, Voors AW, Webber LS, Frerichs RR, Berenson GS, “Anthropometric and maturation measurement of children, ages 5 to 14 years, in a biracial community-the Bogalusa Heart Study” in Am J Clin Nutr. 30 (1977) pp. 582–591).